Posted by: atowhee | May 28, 2015


There’s a White-headed Woodpecker nest on the itinerary of some of the Mountain Bird Festival’s trips this weekend:whitey whw fliez (1280x960)

Posted by: atowhee | May 28, 2015


The pressure is on this year. Saturday marks the start of Klamath Bird OBservatory’s Mountain Bird Festival.  Our logo is the Great Gray Owl and we want to show our attendees an active nest.

Great Gray Owls nested much earlier due to a general lack of winter weather here in the southern Cascades this past season.  Two known GGO nests hereabouts have already fledged.  Late today Laurie and Lee French phoned with exciting news: a GGO nest visible from a public road with one owlet still in the nest.  36 hours from now will the owlet still be in the broken-off trunk where it was born?  Late today the Frenches pointed me in the right direction to see both the brancher (fledgling) and the nestling, then pointed out mom on alert nearby:brancher ggo lookin' ggo (697x1280) two ggowlets

Posted by: atowhee | May 28, 2015


Rancher, conservationists and owl-lovers, Andy Huber and his wife are co-parenting a family of Great Gray Owls.  The Hubers own a ranch near Le La Grande in northeastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains.  This spring a couple of GGOs began raising a family.  One tragic morning the Hubers awoke to see Great Gray Owl feathers scattered on the ground…overnight a Great Horned Owl had killed and eaten the male GGO.  That left a widowed GGO with a nestful to raise.  The Hubers pitched in.  Friends loaned them live traps with which to catch small mammals.  The adult female quickly learned to grab the offered prey.  Many weeks of maturing are ahead of the fledglings but the Hubers persist.  Here is a selection of photos of the Huber owls:1.  Mother warm in sunshine 1936 IMG_5808 2.  Mother spread owl 2173 IMG_5622 3.   Mother on ground 2333 IMG_5588 4.  GGO Mother and mouse 1683 IMG_5463 5.  GGO Mother mouse shadow2455  IMG_5414 6.  Here comes mom with food 2294  IMG_5737 7.  Who's next 2216 IMG_5786 8.  Hold on, I almost fell off the limb 2430 IMG_5739 9.  I'll power nap while you eat it 2246 IMG_5744 10. You feed her, I'll fly 2259 IMG_5781 11.  I got it mom 2237 IMG_5685 12.  Mother feeding child 2361 IMG_5684 13.  I'm off to get another 2397 IMG_5688 14.  This is my family now 2342 IMG_5790 15. GGO Mother tree lichen 2195 IMG_5447Yes, there are four owlets in this family.  Each could eat up to four small rodents daily, and mom needs to eat, too.  The most plentiful prey in the vicinity right now is kangaroo mice.  It will be at least two more months before these young will be able to do any effective hunting of their own…probably.

The Great Gray Owl book I co-authored is now available for sale.  Click here for details. The book will be on sale at the Mountain Bird Festival here in Ashland this weekend.  Next week my co-author and the book’s photographer, Peter Thiemann, will be selling copies at the OBA meeting in Sutherlin.ggo cover

Posted by: atowhee | May 26, 2015


The Golden Gate Audubon three-day visit to southwestern Oregon visited the Siskiyous, Cascades and Klamath Basin.  Result: 125 + species, lifers all around and plenty of great bird moments.

Red-breasted Nuthatches feeding nestlings on Mt. Ashland.  Over a dozen raptors in one kettle riding afternoon air currents over the ridges on the east side of Butte Valley. Yellow Warbler building the perfect nest at Rocky Point.  Black-headed Grosbeaks singing nearly everywhere it seemed.  White-faced Ibis in the sun.  North America’s smallest bird.  Here are a few of my favorite things:CHSP-HIDN (1280x960)Chipping Sparrow not quite hidden. DBL-CRAN2 (1280x960) laz1 MT-BLUU (1280x960)Williamson’s Sapsucker male. WM-SAP1 (1280x960) WM-SAP2 (1280x960) WM-SAP3 (1280x960) WM-SAP4 (1280x960)I took all these photos Saturday in the Cascades.

Posted by: atowhee | May 26, 2015


One meadow along Keno Access Road has been a regular hunting spot for a Great Gray Owl this spring.  Here’s the scene at 745AM yesterday:HOXIE1 HOXIE2 HOXIE3 HOXIE4

Posted by: atowhee | May 24, 2015


One highlight to Day #2 of our Golden Gate Audubon trip into the mountains of southern Oregon was a chance to watch two Red-breasted Nuthatches bringing food to their nestlings.  This was on the north side of Mt. Ashland, below Bull Gap. RBN HOLE1 (1280x960) - Copy RBN HOLE2 (1280x960) - Copy RBN HOLE3 (1280x960) - Copy RBN HOLE4 (1280x960) - CopyBelow: an exit, with fecal sac. RBN HOLE5 (1280x960) - CopyAnother speedy return. RBN HOLE6 (1280x960) At the Ashland Dog Park a half hour of assiduous effort finally got one of our group his lifer view of a Yellow-breasted Chat.  Thirty feet up in a cottonwood, singing.

And we had great views of a male Calliope Hummer, on Tolman Creek Road.  Pictures later.  Klamath tomorrow.

Posted by: atowhee | May 24, 2015


Is there a name for the condition of this golden-headed male goldfinch?bald amgoPhoto taken by Dr. Karl Schneck in Jackson County, Oregon.

Posted by: atowhee | May 23, 2015


Today was the first day of a three-day Golden Gate Audubon trip into southwestern Oregon’s mountains.  The birders from the Bay Area were able to see nearly 70 species including many of the montane goodies.  We saw both Red-breasted and Williamson’s Sapsuckers in the same wet meadow nesting less than thirty yards apart.  There were two unexpected Common Loons on the remnant of Howard Prairie Reservoir. Neither loon was close enough for photos and neither was yet in full breeding plumage but the neck ring was more pronounced than on winter birds.

Bald Eagle.  Great Gray Owl.  Hermit Warbler & MacGillivray’s (in two locations). A half dozen flycatchers including Olive-sided and Dusky. Both local bluebirds.  Two pairs of rust-colored Sandhill Cranes.  Singing Vesper Sparrow.  All in the southern Cascades east of Ashland.  Here are a few of my personal favorites.DPPR (1280x960)This pale Dipper is on Peter Trueblood’s land upstream from Little Hyatt on Keene Creek.  GT Towhee below along Keno Access Road. GTT (1280x960)  GTT-UPPGTT GOES (1280x960)The Snipe and singing vesper Sparrow were also at Howard Prairie where May is the magic month.SNIPOST1 (1280x960) VESP SINBGS-B (1280x960)

Posted by: atowhee | May 21, 2015


Gen-teal, as in GENuine TEAL. Blue-winged at that, not the much more expected Green-winged variety.  There are some Blue-wings breeding in Klamath and marshy areas on the other side of the Cascades. There breeding status here in Jackson County stands at “maybe.”BW FACING (1280x960) BW HEADING (1280x960) BW MALES BW PREENZ (1280x960) BWTRIO (1280x960) BWTRIO2 (1280x960) BWTRIUMF (1280x960) BWTWO (1280x960)These two drakes and the female were in the thumb of water that is next to the road atop a berm that leads to the pioneer cemetery from Hwy 66 on the west side of Emigrant Lake.

There are 1270 species recorded for the lake on eBird, but NO PREVIOUS RECORD FOR BLUE-WINGED TEAL.

I personally have recorded via eBird 228 species (previously) somewhere in Jackson County.  This teal will make 229 even though I have previously seen 26 waterfowl species, including Trumpeter Swans.  These easterly ducks are just not found often in the Rogue Valley.  But this year Em Lake is higher than last and has flooded some temporary grasslands that developed on the formerly drought-exposed lakebed…perhaps this is the habitat BWT prefer…and just maybe…

Emigrant Lake, Jackson, US-OR
May 21, 2015 4:00 PM – 5:15 PM
Comments:     drizzle, no wind
27 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  60     dozen goslings
Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  2
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  4
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)  3     county lifer for me, rarity in Jackson County
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  1
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1     in pioneer cemetery newly mown
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  2
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  3
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  4
Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)  1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  5
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  40
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  3
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)  1
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  1
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)  1
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  1
Wilson’s Warbler (Cardellina pusilla)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  4
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  6
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  6

Posted by: atowhee | May 20, 2015


The Sandhill Crame is the tallest bird that nests here in Oregon.  I never expected to actually see a crane sitting on her nest.  Even on public land I don’t think I would go traipsing across a possible nesting meadow.  Too disturbing for the birds and what if I literally stumbled across the nest?

It was with great joy and surprise that I stumbled across a crane nest location, right beside the road.  And I could take pictures without getting out of the car.crane mom1The nest was along a side road off OR7 as it parallels the Powder River in western Baker County.  It was only about thirty feet below the berm that lifted the road above the marsh.  The first day I found the nest the male was nearby, on my return visits he was not to be seen.CRANES (1280x960) (2)CRANE MALE (1280x960) (2)CRANE FMALE (1280x960) (2)  CRANE STARE

Below a pair of cranes in a field, also along OR7.  This was near the ghost town of Whitney.whitney crane uprit whitney cranes1 whitney cranes2These birds have certainly changed their gray plumage to a deep rusty color.  The cranes do it by rubbing iron-rich mud onto the feathers, staining them.  Here is their crane meadow:WHITNEY CRANES (1280x960)


At Deadwood Junction along Dead Indian Memorial Road in Jackson County I slowed down the car and set off a territorial dance by a lone adult crane just across the fence: Dance1 (1280x960) dance2 (1280x960) dance3 (1280x960) dance4 (1280x960) dance5 (1280x960) dance7 (1280x960) dance8 (1280x960) dance9 (1280x960)after dance (1280x960)The clear message: get away.  I left.

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